Review of Adobe Fireworks CS3

Adobe has taken Macromedia's Fireworks and turned it into a tool that is featured as a prototype web creating tool.

You can import native Photoshop CS3 and Illustrator CS3 files and use Fireworks with Dreamweaver in the same easy manner that you did with Macromedia. Fireworks CS3 recognizes and preserves layer and sublayers.When you bring your Photoshop native PSD files into Fireworks CS3, you can use seven of the most common of Photoshop's Blending Modes such as dissolve, hard mix, etc.

When a PSD file is brought into Fireworks CS3, it will also retain its effects. In Fireworks, one can edit using Photoshop Live Effects. I created "Sunspot" effects from the Styles palette in Photoshop. Notice "Gradient Overlay" and "Satin." (The lettering was originally black until a Styles effect was used in Photoshop CS3.)

After I brought it into Fireworks CS3, I could, also, edit it with Photoshop Live Effects. Notice how "Gradient Overlay" and "Satin" are checked. They were already checked when I opened the image. I could, then, make changes.

When I opened an Illustrator CS3 file, a screen opened that asked certain questions.

When you bring in Illustrator CS3 files, they also retain their layers as well as their groups and colors, for example. Fireworks CS3 supports Illustrator CS3's transparency features, gradients, position of anchors, etc. These are editable. For example, in Illustrator I created an AI file with a gradient fill, and in Fireworks CS3 I changed the gradient.

Below is a simple file created on one layer in Illustrator CS3. Along with it is its expanded layers palette.

As stated in the beginning of the review, Fireworks CS3 is very useful to create prototypes of web pages to show clients before the pages become a part of Dreamweaver CS3. It is absolutely intuitive; you just start off with one page and keep adding pages, finally saving them as a PNG file. You can scroll easily between pages. You can connect all the pages by creating hot spots and, then, linking the pages. From the top toolbar, File>Preview in Browser>Preview all pages in Explorer.exe, will allow you to see all the pages. Lastly, you can export them as multiple HTML files and then click through each one since they are connected.

However, I did find some problems. Fireworks CS3 was very picky when I tried to import an HTML file to create a page of a prototype. Nothing would show up. One criteria is that the file had to be constructed in the form of tables. While my file contained tables on how it was set up on the page, it obviously did not meet the criteria. Also, as an aside, when Fireworks CS3 exports a file as an HTML, it does so in the form of tables. All of the files I tried to open had been created in various versions of Dreamweaver. I was able, however, to open the HTML files in question in Microsoft Word and change them to RTF files which opened perfectly in Fireworks CS3 so I could use them in my creation of a prototype.

The Common Library stores 3 types of symbols - graphic, animation, and buttons. These can be dragged and dropped to the canvas as instances and, then, modified using the Symbol Properties panel. To illustrate this, I chose a label in the Common Library from the many choices available;

then, I brought an instance of it to my canvas. Using the Assets panel, I could change features of the instance in the panel. For example, I could rename "label" to "check if OK." Working with symbols and instances makes life very easy.

Another new aspect of Fireworks CS3 is Intelligent Scaling. In Fireworks CS3, I used a symbol from the Common Library and saved it with the option of 9-slice scaling. The idea of 9-slice scaling is that scaling can be controlled. In this example, the corners that were not included within the lines, stayed the same shape. Also, as I changed the shape of the container, the text changed as well because it was within the lines.

As Illustrator CS3 added new color options, so has Fireworks CS3 added some color features that are worth mentioning. There is a new color palette which gives you the ability to blend colors based on tint, generate a full color table based on a few colors, and share these new color palettes with other Adobe applications.

You can choose two basic color groups and switch between palettes 1 and 2. These are identified with the rainbow-like mark above them on the Mixer palette and correspond to the two sets of four color blocks on the lower left of the Mixer palette. I found the ability to choose a gradation series between any two colors very useful.

As a prototyping tool I found it very useful. If you do not own Photoshop, you can do a decent job of image editing with Fireworks CS3; however, it is definitely not a substitute for Photoshop CS3. You can, also, directly access it from Dreamweaver CS3 as an Image Editor. It is a very useful complement to web work especially if you are doing a lot of layout work for clients and want to do it in a simplified and efficient manner. If you do not need to do prototyping, you might want to think twice if you are purchasing it as a stand alone or deciding on which suite to purchase. Remember, it is included in the Web Premium Suite while InDesign CS3 is in The Design Premium Suite and it is not. However, there might be some Macromedia Firework fans out in cyberspace, and I don't want to step on their toes. Adobe has added nice additions to Fireworks CS3 with the main one the ability to easily create prototypes of web sites.

Click on the link for updated information on Fireworks CS3.

The system requirements are:



The full price is US $299.00 with upgrades from US $149.00. You can, also, download a trial version.